Seldinger technique

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 23 Mar 2023

The Seldinger technique is the mainstay of vascular and other luminal access in interventional radiology. 

Practically-speaking, the majority of interventional diagnostic and therapeutic radiological procedures employ the Seldinger technique for initial vascular access.

  1. desired vessel or cavity is punctured using a trocar (hollow needle)
  2. soft curved tip guide wire is then inserted through the trocar and advanced into the lumen
  3. guidewire is held secured in place whilst the introducer trocar is removed
  4. large-bore sheath/cannula/catheter is passed over the guidewire into the lumen/cavity
  5. guidewire is withdrawn leaving the introducer sheath in situ through which catheters and other medical devices can be introduced

The Seldinger technique was first described in 1953 by Sven-Ivar Seldinger (1921-1998), a pioneering Swedish interventional radiologist (a rare example of Stigler's law of eponymy being wrong).

Prior to this procedure, sharp large-bore trocars were employed to gain arterial access, resulting in a high rate of complications and limiting its use to larger arteries. While working at the Karolinska Hospital he introduced a novel method of gaining vascular access using a hollow needle, exchange wire, and catheter, which enabled radiologists to perform angiography in a relatively risk-free manner and thus lead to the emergence of minimally invasive procedures.

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Cases and figures

  • Renal abscess with CT guided drainage
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