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A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman's uterus. For many women, a hysterectomy comes as a solution to health problems as diverse as abnormal bleeding to reproductive cancers. First performed in the early 1800s, this procedure has evolved in terms of both technique and popularity. The first successful abdominal hysterectomy was performed by Ellis Burnham in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1853, although earlier attempts were made in the 1840s. These first hysterectomies were not performed under effective anesthetics-it was not until later in 1853 that a patient of surgeon Gilman Kimball would benefit from the use of chloroform. The hysterectomy of the modern era has become a common and much safer procedure-so common, in fact, that many believe that the hysterectomy is performed too often and in place of other, perhaps healthier, alternatives. In addition to its inherent surgical risks, a hysterectomy also makes it impossible for a woman to have further children.