OBJECTIVE. This retrospective study was conducted to determine the incidence of sepsis at our institution after percutaneous drainage of a hepatic abscess. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Thirty-three patients with a hepatic abscess treated using percutaneous aspiration and drainage from 1995 to 2000 were identified from a search of the interventional database. The patients' charts and CT images were reviewed independently by two radiologists for clinical presentation, relevant medical history, pre- and postprocedure antibiotic regimens, and clinical course after percutaneous aspiration and drainage. The preprocedure images were reviewed for the location and morphology of the abscess. The procedure details including percutaneous approach, guidance technique, catheter size, and immediate postprocedure complications were reviewed. RESULTS. Of the 33 patients, 14 patients underwent only needle aspiration of the abscess. In six (43%) of these 14 patients, the abscesses resolved with aspiration and appropriate antibiotic treatment alone. Eight (57%) of the patients who had aspiration of the abscess initially went on to have drainage catheters placed within a 72-hr period. Nineteen patients had drainage catheters placed from the onset. Of these, 17 patients (89%) had abscess resolution. Of the 27 patients who had catheters placed, a total of seven patients (26%) developed clinical symptoms of septicemia after catheter placement, but all patients, at least initially, responded to supportive treatment. Two patients died from septicemia 3-6 weeks after the procedure. None of the patients who underwent aspiration only developed postprocedure septicemia. CONCLUSION. After placement of a percutaneous drainage catheter in a hepatic abscess, there is a significant risk (26%) of postprocedure sepsis. Although it appears to be a random and unpredictable event in our small series, interventional radiologists and referring physicians should be aware of the risk of sepsis after percutaneous drainage of hepatic abscess. © American Roentgen Ray Society.