"I give every patient and family I see, in the hospital or clinic, as much time as they need to understand the situation. I'll draw a picture or create a diagram, and walk them through the illness and treatment piece by piece," says Steve Muyskens, M.D.
Dr. Muyskens grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and quickly developed an interest in the sciences and medicine. He attended the University of Kansas for undergraduate training and graduated with a B.A. in biology. In between studies, he spent his free time volunteering through the United Way of Douglas County and in local emergency rooms. He also realized his passion for Kansas basketball and spent the cold Kansas winters attending basketball games.
After graduation, he attended medical school at the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine. During his third and fourth years of medical school he became interested in pediatric cardiology and the care of these patients in underserved countries. He was awarded the Barry Freeman Memorial Fellowship and traveled to Efate, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific to volunteer at a local hospital. The experience of working with sick children, especially those with heart disease, with limited resources shaped his practice and passion for cardiology.
Dr. Muyskens trained in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, MO. During those six years, he developed his interest in non-invasive imaging and pursued additional training in cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMRI) and computed tomography. He also met his wife, Melissa, a pediatric cardiovascular intensive care nurse. Following graduation, he participated in a physician fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard School of Medicine, increasing his knowledge and experience in CMRI.
Since being at Cook Children's, Dr. Muyskens has developed the CMRI program which performs and interprets CMRI in patients of all ages and with all types of heart disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is noninvasive and takes pictures of the heart and surrounding structures using a large magnet, radiowaves and a computer. Additionally, the imaging is obtained without using radiation. MRIs are performed to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and blood vessels and may provide cardiologists with information that cannot be obtained by other tests. Since January 2011, when this program was introduced, over 1000 cardiovascular MRIs have been performed at Cook Children's.
In 2015, Cook Children's Health Foundation awarded Dr. Muyskens an Endowed Chair to support the expansion of our CMRI program and its diagnostic uses. Dr. Muyskens has since established the three-dimensional lab for the planning and printing of congenital heart disease (3D aPPROaCH Lab) which uses advanced technology to support pre-surgical planning and family education for patients with complex heart conditions. The dedicated in-house lab utilizes both 3D virtual viewing software and 3D printing to aid in the understanding and planning of complex surgical and interventional cases. Cook Children's is one of a select few pediatric centers in the country to combine these technologies. Additionally, Dr. Muyskens is conducting research of 4-dimensional flow analysis by cardiac MRI. He hopes this emerging technology will allow a more comprehensive understanding of complex vascular anomalies.
Dr. Muyskens loves both the science and the interpersonal side of his work with his patients. He credits his mother with recognizing and encouraging his love of science when he was in 7th grade biology. "That's really where it all began," he says. He also loves spending time with his wife and two daughters. When there is "me time," he can be found cycling or playing golf.