Thursday, October 16, 2008

Saint's Triad

Saint, a South African surgeon, emphasized the importance of considering the possibility of multiple separate diseases in a patient whenever his or her history and the results of the physical examination were atypical of any single condition.

The triad that bears his name is the association of

    • hiatal hernia,
    • gallbladder disease(gall stones), and
    • diverticulosis.
  • There is no pathophysiological basis for the coexistence of these three diseases; that, perhaps, was his point.
  • Saint emphasized that more than one disease may be responsible for a patient's clinical signs and symptoms.
  • his Triad provides a counterexample to the commonly used diagnostic principle that "the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible," also known as Occam's Razor.

William of Occam stated, "Plurality must not be posited without necessity." A subsequent version of this statement was expressed as "Among competing hypotheses, favor the simplest one" — hence the term "Occam's razor"

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