Oriental cholangitis is a poorly understood syndrome consisting of intrahepatic pigment stone formation with chronically recurrent exacerbations and remissions. Endemic to Asia, it is being encountered more frequently in the United States due to increased immigration of asians. Twenty-one patients with oriental cholangitis (9 men and 12 women), 19 to 84 years of age, all of whom immigrated from asian countries, were treated between 1970 and 1983. All had histories of episodic abdominal pain, most with jaundice, chills, and fever. Laboratory results were nonspecific but frequently included leukocytosis and hyperbilirubinemia. All patients were operated on with 15 having cholecystectomy, common duct exploration, and a bilioenteric anatomosis. E. coli was cultured from specimens obtained from the biliary tracts of all patients, and 13 patients had more than one organism. Four patients had a previous history of parasitic infection, and four different patients had parasites identified in the biliary tract intraoperatively. Early recognition and appropriate operation will decrease morbidity and mortality.
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