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Sven-Ivar Seldinger

Born 1921
Died 1998

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Swedish radiologist, born April 19, 1921, Dalecarlia, Mora; died February 21, 1998.

Biography of Sven-Ivar Seldinger

Sven-Ivar Seldinger received his basic education in Dalecarlia in the district of Dalarna. He began his medical studies at the Karolinska Institute in the fall of 1940 and graduated – medicine licentiat – in 1948. Following some shorter deputyships at the surgical department, Seldinger in 1950 began his training in radiology. "This thing with pictures fascinates me", he once said.

It was while at the new university clinic at the Karolinska sjukhuset he conceived his genial idea, in 1952. In "Pioneers of angiography" he tells how this happened. he had been struggling with the problem of developing a better method of catheterisation, when he had "a severe attack of common sense": "Now! After an unsuccessful attempt to use this technique, I found myself, disappointed and sad, with three objects in my hand - a needle, a wire and a catheter - and ... in a split second I realized in what sequence I should use them: Needle in, wire in, needle off, catheter on wire, catheter in, catheter advance, wire off".

The Seldinger method spread fast, and in the late 1950's was a routine procedure in radiological departments all over the world. It was not until 1966, however, that Seldinger compiled the results of his investigations in percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography in a supplement of the Acta Radiologica - his doctoral thesis. He was subsequently appointed associate professor.

At this period of life Seldinger had all the fame he needed, he now felt the strong ties to his native district and its people. In 1967 he withdrew from his academic life at the Karolinska sjukhuset, returning to his native city of Mora to become chief of the radiology department at the local hospital. His ancestors had lived in Mora from time immemorial. Several of the watchmakers making the famous Mora-watches came from his mother's family. His maternal great grandfather was portrayed by Anders Zorn, the famous artist who portrayed three American presidents and was one of the richest artists of his day. Sven-Ivar Seldinger's dextrousness with in fine mechanics was natural to his family. His maternal grandfather ran a mechanical workshop which Sven-Ivar visited frequently in his schooldays.

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