The Stenting and Aggressive Medical Management for Preventing Recurrent stroke in Intracranial Stenosis (SAMMPRIS) trial, the first randomized trial to compare best medical therapies with angioplasty and stenting, was halted prematurely owing to a 30-day stroke rate of 14.7% in the angioplasty and stenting arm compared with 5.8% in the medical management arm. These results have led to a paradigm shift away from interventional therapies and back to dual antiplatelet therapy and aggressive medical therapies only for these patients. However, there appears to be a subset of patients with intracranial atherosclerotic disease (ICAD) who are different from the general SAMMPRIS cohort and are defined by flow failure from severe intracranial arterial stenosis resulting in recurrent ischemic symptoms despite maximal medical therapy. Offering the option of endovascular revascularization seems appropriate in this patient population, given their recurrent ischemic events regardless of aggressive medical therapies. This paper provides a rationale for reconsidering the role of interventional therapies in patients with critical intracranial stenosis and presents four patients with flow failure from ICAD and persistent symptoms of ischemia, regardless of dual antiplatelet and adjuvant medical therapies, who subsequently improved with angioplasty. Consideration of alternative patient populations and treatment paradigms seems to carry particular relevance now as the endovascular treatment of intracranial atheromatous disease is currently receiving intense scrutiny by those medical specialties involved in the care of stroke patients, as well as the public at large.
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