Mark I. Zeme, M.D.
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How Does Balloon Sinuplasty Work?

Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty Treatment

More Information:

Chronic Sinusitis Sufferers: It's Time To Get Your Life Back

Balloon Sinuplasty

Balloon Sinuplasty Case Study

Is Balloon Sinuplasty
Right for You?

Frequently Asked


“I was in a lot of pain and I felt like my head was constantly under water. Dr. Zeme was terrific. His manner was completely professional and my experience with him as my physician was first rate. I would recommend Dr. Zeme anytime.”
—Balloon sinuplasty surgery patient







Balloon Sinuplasty

If you are one of the 37 million people in the U.S. that suffer from chronic sinusitis an advanced, minimally invasive treatment called Balloon Sinuplasty is now available that will help to restore your quality of life. Dr. Zeme is a sinus surgery specialist and one of the only ENT physicians in the East San Francisco Bay Area certified in Balloon Sinuplasty. This procedure effectively cures acute sinusitis with minimal or no tissue removal.

Mark Zeme, M.D. video on balloon sinuplasty

Ultimately, the technology may allow for significant symptom relief for patients that leads to a faster return to normal daily activities—often in 24 hours.  Balloon Sinuplasty is a novel, endoscopic, catheter-based technology utilized in sinus surgery that you can discuss with Dr. Zeme. This FDA-cleared technology uses a small, flexible, sinus balloon catheter to open up blocked sinus passageways, restoring normal sinus drainage. When the sinus balloon is inflated, it gently restructures and widens the walls of the passageway while maintaining the integrity of the sinus lining.     


Sinusitis affects 37 million people each year, making it one of the most common health problems in the U.S. It is more prevalent than heart disease and asthma and has a greater impact on quality of life than chronic back pain or congestive heart failure. Symptoms may significantly affect people physically, functionally, and emotionally.

To understand sinusitis, it is important to first learn about your sinuses and their role with your health. The sinuses are air spaces behind the bones of the upper face, between the eyes and behind the forehead, nose and cheeks. The sinuses are covered with a mucus layer and cells that contain little hairs on their surfaces called cilia. These help trap and push out bacteria and pollutants.

view of sinuses

Each sinus has an opening that allows mucous to drain – this drainage is essential to keeping your sinuses working well and you healthy. Anything that obstructs that flow may cause a buildup of mucus in the sinuses.

Experts agree that healthy sinuses are a key to a good quality of life and that unhealthy sinuses may cause some unwanted complications.

How Does Balloon Sinuplasty Work?

Balloon Sinuplasty involves the use of tiny balloons to open blocked sinuses similar to how angioplasty uses balloons to open blocked coronary arteries.   Sinuses are air pockets that are located within the bones of the skull and face and are connected to your nasal passages by small tubes or channels.  These channels permit air to flow from the nose into the sinuses and allow drainage of mucous from each sinus into the nose.  The diagram below points out the sinuses.

The illustrations below shows the Balloon Sinuplasty procedure.  During sinus surgery Balloon Sinuplasty devices are used to open the blockage that is preventing sinus drainage.

Step 1: Gain Access to the Sinus. Step 2: Inflate Balloon Across Ostium. Step 3: Remove Balloon and Irrigate Sinus. Step 4: Remove System.
To gain initial sinus access, the sinus guide catheter is introduced into the nasal cavity to target the sinus ostia under endoscopic visualization. The sinus guidewire or the sinus illumination system is introduced through the sinus guide catheter and gently advanced into the target sinus. The sinus balloon catheter is introduced over the sinus guidewire or sinus illumination system and positioned across the blocked ostium. The position of the sinus balloon catheter is confirmed and the balloon is gradually inflated to open and remodel the narrowed or blocked ostium. The sinus balloon catheter is then deflated and removed. The irrigation catheter is advanced over the sinus guidewire or sinus illumination system into the target sinus. The sinus is then
irrigated, flushing tenacious sinus contents - like pus and mucus.
The irrigation catheter is removed, leaving the ostium open and the sinus cleared of mucus allowing the return of sinus drainage. There is little to no disruption to mucosal lining.

Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty Treatment

Safe and Effective
While use of any surgical instrument involves some risk, clinical research has indicated the Balloon Sinuplasty™ System to be safe and effective in improving symptoms of sinusitis.

Minimally Invasive
The technology uses small, soft, flexible devices that enter entirely through the nostrils. These devices gently open blocked sinus openings, and in many cases, without tissue or bone removal.

Minimal Bleeding
Because in many instances no tissue or bone is removed when using this technology, there may be little bleeding associated with the procedure.

Quick Recovery Time
While recovery time varies with each patient, many people can quickly return to normal activities.

Does Not Limit Treatment Options
This technology is an endoscopic tool and may be used with other medical therapies or sinus surgery techniques. It does not limit future treatment options if you have progressive disease.