Background: Multimorbidity poses a global challenge to healthcare delivery. This study aimed to describe the prevalence of multimorbidity, common disease combinations and outcomes in a contemporary cohort of patients undergoing major abdominal surgery. Methods: This was a pre-planned analysis of a prospective, multicentre, international study investigating cardiovascular complications after major abdominal surgery conducted in 446 hospitals in 29 countries across Europe. The primary outcome was 30-day postoperative mortality. The secondary outcome measure was the incidence of complications within 30 days of surgery. Results: Of 24,227 patients, 7006 (28.9%) had one long-term condition and 10,486 (43.9%) had multimorbidity (two or more long-term health conditions). The most common conditions were primary cancer (39.6%); hypertension (37.9%); chronic kidney disease (17.4%); and diabetes (15.4%). Patients with multimorbidity had a higher incidence of frailty compared with patients ≤ 1 long-term health condition. Mortality was higher in patients with one long-term health condition (adjusted odds ratio 1.93 (95%CI 1.16–3.23)) and multimorbidity (adjusted odds ratio 2.22 (95%CI 1.35–3.64)). Frailty and ASA physical status 3–5 mediated an estimated 31.7% of the 30-day mortality in patients with one long-term health condition (adjusted odds ratio 1.30 (95%CI 1.12–1.51)) and an estimated 36.9% of the 30-day mortality in patients with multimorbidity (adjusted odds ratio 1.61 (95%CI 1.36–1.91)). There was no improvement in 30-day mortality in patients with multimorbidity who received pre-operative medical assessment. Conclusions: Multimorbidity is common and outcomes are poor among surgical patients across Europe. Addressing multimorbidity in elective and emergency patients requires innovative strategies to account for frailty and disease control. The development of such strategies, that integrate care targeting whole surgical pathways to strengthen current systems, is urgently needed for multimorbid patients. Interventional trials are warranted to determine the effectiveness of targeted management for surgical patients with multimorbidity.

Association between multimorbidity and postoperative mortality in patients undergoing major surgery: a prospective study in 29 countries across Europe