Recurrent cholangiohepatitis is the third commonest abdominal surgical emergency encountered in the practice of the University Surgical Unit at the Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, following after and some considerable way behind acute appendicitis and perforated peptic ulcer. Approximately 40 cases are seen each year. It is, in fact, the commonest surgical condition affecting the biliary tree, being seen far more frequently than simple cholelithiasis. It is a disease found almost exclusively in Southeast Asia, and it is very common in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. It is seen at all ages above infancy, equally in both sexes and in all grades of severity. When it presents as an acute emergency, it is common for the patient to give a history of milder attacks over a period of several years.
The remarks which follow are based on experience in Hong Kong between 1948 and 1960. The bibliography of