DETROIT -

Experts say erectile dysfunction (ED) affects as many as 18 million men in the United States.  There are a variety of treatments, but the latest technique is one that is typically used to solve heart problems.

Dr. Mehdi Shishehbor is a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, but he’s now using balloons and stents to unclog arteries and treat ED.

“The reason for this is that 70% of people that have erectile dysfunction have some form of atherosclerosis, some form of blockage that may prevent blood flow from getting to the penis," said Shishehbor.

The outpatient procedure takes about an hour.  An angiogram is performed to identify the blockage, then a stent is placed in the affected artery.  The arteries that provide blood flow to the penis are in the pelvis, which is where the stent is placed, not in the penis.

Shishebor said the recovery process is not long, and some men are having sex the next day.

“I think it all comes down to me, at least, as a physician, to quality of life.  Because we do many procedures to improve the quality of life of patients, and this is one of those things that has significant improvement in quality of life," said Shishehbor.

Candidates for the procedure are chosen by a highly selective process, and Shishehbor said men should talk to their cardiologist if they think they might qualify.

To learn more about the stent treatment for ED, click here.